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Alex Cuba: «The classics still inspire me»

Alex Cuba: «The classics still inspire me»

In 2019 went out to the market the album Sublime by the Cuban singer Alex Cuba, born in Artemisa, son of veteran guitar teacher Valentin Puentes and brother of the recognized musician Adonis Puentes. Other journalists and critics have already analyzed the album, considering it excellent and doing justice with its title. I suggest you listen to the songs (look it up on YouTube) and check that it has not been exaggerated in the comments.

Alex defends what he calls "neo soul latino" (NSL) and it suits him very well. The NSL does not renounce genres such as bolero or traditional Cuban music, is not an invention but an extension. Do not quarrel with other sounds, it only brings your current and somewhat vintage touch. Sublime is not a simple disc, cataloging it thus suppresses its quality. A "simple" issue has been to make each song hit, slip, no one gets entangled in the melody, everyone can hum the song. That, geniuses, is not easy to achieve.

Alex Cuba also highlighted in the composition (we know that dominates several instruments) and does not presume to be the best writer in the world but leaves worth the fight. His verses do not seek to get too complicated, it is not his purpose, but the message arrives. Alex, son of his generation, talks about his problems with the world and loves or gets nostalgic and reflective. In the end, the album is a bag of emotions and in Sublime they are well dosed.

For critics and music lovers, "Sublime" is already among the best productions of your career. Would you agree with this statement?

I totally agree.

How this proposal was born and in what period of time songs such as “Y si mañana” and “Hoy como ayer” were born…

I think this album began in Mexico, where I was once writing with other artists there and found a great connection and inspiration. The songs “Y si mañana” and “Hoy como ayer” are already several years old. I always find it funny how you write a song today can fit nicely into one album right next to another you wrote ten years ago. That is why I always collect a lot of new repertoire before launching to record. I like to have at least 20 songs to choose 10 or 12 for an album.

Y si mañana is a song I wrote before I left Cuba, back in the '98 and was even recorded earlier in the voice of my brother Adonis Puentes album  we did together under the name Puentes Brothers. For my new album "Sublime" I decided to bring this song back into the picture because it seemed very appropriate for the voice of the great Omara Portuondo.

Hoy Como Ayer is a co-authored with a friend of mine, Venezuelan singer-songwriter Fernando Osorio, who has written many works of great renown as La Negra tiene Tumba´o, among others. With him I have written several songs and Hoy Como Ayer was the very first one we wrote about 5 years ago. Something very mystical about this song is that we write it really fast, in around two hours or something and we felt it as a great gift from God, for the beauty so deep and simple at the same time of the song.

I confess that since the birth of this song in my mind I heard me singing it with Pablo, so getting to materialize it has meant a lot to me.

It's like wearing a golden crown ...

Definitely. And not only sing with them, but also sing my songs with them. A dream come true for me.

What other interpreters or musicians on the island would you like to share in the near future?

David Torrens is one of my favorite singer-songwriters in Cuba and I would definitely like to do something with him soon.

We also saw a super star as it is Kelvis Ochoa in Ciudad hembra, what about the song to Artemisa?

The great Kelvis Ochoa, my friend and singer-songwriter whom I admire very much. It is very curious that you ask me this, because apparently you do not know that I wrote a song many years ago, that it was part of my second album and that I titled Y que Bongó, which talks about Artemisa and one of its outstanding musicians, Mr. Quimiñón, may he rest in peace. But of course, nobody in Artemisa knows.

I notice (I might be wrong) that Alex Cuba of contemporary sounds, without abandoning them, presents himself more intimately ... Was that other one of the objectives of the album?

Yes, absolutely, that was one of the objectives of the album, recreating the acoustic universe and own intimate nature of the songs that comprise it.

One day you told me that you described your music as a kind of "neo Latin soul." What artists inspire you to build your sound? I hope the first one is your dad, the big Valentine.

I still describe it that way and every time it becomes clearer. Inspiration is something that lives in me without having to constantly feed it. I nourished me with a lot of jazz, soul, funk and of course the same Cuban music as I grew up and that still feeds me, it still keeps me on the creative quest, without having to listen to some music these days, which is in my opinion a both dangerous because of the deterioration that music has suffered in the last 10 years. That is to say: the classics, the usual ones, those who practically invented the music still inspire me.

I always thank my father for instilling the music in me, for having put a guitar in my hands when some talent lights sprang from me and taught me how to play it. Already the question of looking for my own sound is something else and it has to do more with my own search beyond Cuban music. To be fair, it is very important to mention that the man with whom I learned to play bass, the great Artemisean bassist known as “El Chupa´o”, has a lot to do with my approach to American music from the bass, because he knew how to explore my tastes and musical concerns very well and definitely helped me develop them.

In one of your songs you say: "I'm still the same dreamer of the seasons and love again like this, without hiding who I am" ... And right now, what do you dream of?

I dream of snakes.